by Joseph Isaacs
a cup of tea
Better than expected.
I stared at the title.
“Happy?” I said to my type writer, but it failed to answer. “Seriously, what is this happy shit?”
I love my editor, but seriously, write something happy? I’ve always expected the worst and I’ve rarely been disappointed.
I glanced over at Clarence’s photo as if expecting him to answer.
“Calm down, Jed!” he would have said. “You can do happy.”
But happy had died with him.
I looked at the paper, blank of all but title, and I knew whatever I was about to write was going to be some contrite shit. Happy. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, happy thoughts. Okay, I can do happy. Omelets. Omelets are happy. What the hell am I going to write about an omelet?
At that moment the doorbell rang. I pushed up from my desk, which creaked like my back, like my legs, like my heart, and opened the door, expecting someone to try to sell me a security system.
It was a hippie with the what you call them—fear-locks or dread- braids or something. You know the knotted, tangled look.
“Uncle Jed,” the hippie said. “Can I stay here awhile, my parents kind of kicked me out.”
“Oliver?” I inquired stupidly.
I didn’t know Oliver that well. I don’t know anyone in my family that well as we are estranged. I was surprised he even found my address. He had one of those hiker backpacks with him with a sleeping bag tied to the bottom.
This was going to suck.
“Well, if they kicked you out, why do you think I would kick you in?”
“Well, you and I have something in common.”
“Oh,” I said. “Oh.”
I had come out of the closet when I was seventeen and my parents had kicked me out of the house too. Those were a tough couple of years.
Oliver put his filthy backpack down on my pristine couch.
“Cup of tea?” I asked Oliver.
“That would be great,” he said, tying his scaredy-locks into a pony tail. “I’m sorry I came unannounced. I couldn’t find your phone number.”
“I don’t want to inconvenience you. It’s just. I don’t have anywhere to go.”
I shrugged. “It’s a big house since Clarence died. Stay as long as you like.”
I stared down at the words taunting me from my typewriter. Better than expected.